Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Amazing X Ranch (and how it scarred me for life)

Around the early 70s, Dan Gerber Jr, father-author-one time race car driver-son of Dan Sr,canned baby food pioneer, had at one time, a nice chunk of property on the north side of Fremont he dubbed, The Amazing X Ranch. Being from a small town with a population of about 3,500, it was kind of a big thing. As much because of how enormous and beautiful it was, to all the small town speculation of all the activity that was potentially going on behind the gate (I actually don't recall if there was a gate but this is my blog).

I was in high school at the time and an avid reader of Rolling Stone, which is how I was introduced impart to scribes like Tom McGuane, Jim Harrison and Hunter S. Thompson. Coincidentally, Dan Jr, was becoming an incredibly accomplished writer in his own rite. So of course, at some point, there was the inevitable town chatter that, oh, Jimmy Buffett was in town over the weekend or "Hey, am I nuts, I just heard the same thing about Peter Fonda." I mean David Crosby? Get outta here!

If it was true, it was just as validating to hear about it 3rd hand so that if my friends and I ever encountered kids from another town, we could casually drop names about our friends who knew friends who were cousins of, to help give us that much needed farm-town-cred.

The connection, if you're waiting, is the t-shirt. The Amazing X Ranch t-shirt was something I aspired to have as a kid because it was an identifier of a place only a small group of people knew anything about. It had that secret society element to it. And it was right here in our hometown. A lot like loving the Replacements, you wanted them to stay tiny, hoping you and only a small handful of others were the only ones cool enough to know about them.
 Then there was that Fart t-shirt in the classic Ford logo that I so badly wanted, Mr. Payne.

Pictured above are recruits, Hunter S. Thompson and Bill Murray, of the Amazing X Navy.